The Rise of Living Roofs in Manitoba’s Urban Spaces

The concept of living roofs, also known as green roofs, is gaining popularity in Manitoba’s urban spaces. A living roof is a layer of vegetation placed on a waterproofing system on a flat or slightly inclined roof. These roofs offer shade and absorb heat from the atmosphere. The result is a reduction in lower air and roof surface temperatures, significantly impacting urban environments. In Manitoba, the adoption of these sustainable roofing solutions is on the rise, reflecting a global trend towards greener, more eco-friendly building practices. Unfortunately Manitoba’s weather isn’t the best for these type of roofs. But if it was, this article could help.


Living Roofs

The contribution of sustainable roofing to urban areas is simply invaluable. Green roofs have a number of distinct advantages, such as efficient storm water management, energy efficiency and better air quality. They reduce the burden on storm drainage systems with evapotranspiration, and absorb rain water. This provides flood control and ensures clean water quality by reducing pollutants that enter their way. For these reasons, the energy they save over time is of great significance. Additionally, green roofs absorb pollutants and capture dust particles which help to enhance air quality in an urban environment.

The statistics substantiate the increasing popularity of living roofs around the world and in areas such as Manitoba. The global green roof market was valued at USD 1.41 billion in 2022 and is projected to reach USD 5.37 billion by 2030, growing at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 16.20%.

In Manitoba, the surge in living roofs isn’t just a trend. It shows a broader commitment to sustainable and environmentally conscious construction. Nestled in the heart of urban landscapes, these green roofs offer a unique chance to tackle environmental challenges head-on, all while enhancing the aesthetic and practical appeal of buildings. Let’s discover their types, benefits and maintenance requirements.

Types of Living Roofs

First, we need to understand the concept of living roofs to fully appreciate their growing presence in Manitoba’s urban landscapes. These roofs are far more than mere layers of soil and greenery atop buildings. They represent an intricate fusion of nature and architecture, a living system that breathes life into the concrete and steel of urban structures. They come in three main types: extensive, semi-intensive, and intensive. Each type varies in depth, maintenance needs, and the variety of plant life it can support.

The structural integrity is a crucial aspect when it comes to living roofs. It’s a well-known fact that every building has its own set of limitations regarding the weight it can bear. This is why a thorough professional evaluation is vital to determine whether a building’s roof can handle the additional load that comes with a living roof.

More often than not, buildings may need some structural tweaks before they can safely support a living roof. This is where services like Winnipeg roof inspection offered by Kenava Roofing prove to be invaluable. They bring in experts who can meticulously assess a building’s capacity to support the weight of soil, plants, and the water that is retained.

Benefits of Living Roofs

Living roofs are an innovative and flexible option available for the Manitoba urban setting. They provide the aesthetic, environmental, and practical aspects. Be it a simplified, and low-maintenance extensive roof or an elegant intensive garden the living roofs are modifying Manitoba’s landscape. With proper planning and advice from professionals, these green spaces on roofs are now a real alternative for many buildings in the area

Green roofs or living roof provide a plethora of benefits including environmental, social and economic domains. In spaces such as Manitoba, these benefits are becoming more evident to promote a sustainable and liveable community.

Environmental Impact

Improved Air Quality and Urban Heat Island Reduction: The living roofs are essential in enhancing air quality. They purify particulates and produce oxygen from carbon dioxide, thus directly contributing to the cleansing of pollutants. These roofs absorb solar energy and reflect heat. Thereby reducing the temperature of their surroundings in ways that counteract some effects created by urban expansion. This is especially true in urban settings, where temperatures can be considerably higher than in rural environments.

Stormwater Management and Biodiversity Enhancement: One of the benefits green roofs have is to hold rainwater, which reduces the drainage cost for cities and minimizes the possibility of flooding. They also provide cleaner runoff by filtering water through the vegetation, which is present on their rooftops. It also becomes home to different species, promoting urban biodiversity and balanced ecosystems.

Social and Community Advantages

Creation of Green Spaces for Community Engagement: The emergence of living roofs in the urban centres of Manitoba creates room for civic participation through the generation of green spaces. These living roofs turn the existing dead rooftops alive and create opportunities for individuals to interact with nature, and each other.

It provides a rare opportunity for city dwellers to garden and environment education that builds community spirit. In this regard, introducing living roofs in cities such as Winnipeg where affordable roofing Winnipeg and metal roofing solutions are demanded, living roofs can help improve the look of buildings together with their functionality. It is primarily a space for people and the advancement of urban health.

Contribution to Mental Health and Well-being: According to some studies, the proximity of green areas such as living roofs has been found beneficial for mental health. These spaces provide a link to nature, contributing towards stress reduction and mental health benefits. Spending time in green spaces such as living roofs has been shown to positively impact mood and cognitive function. The natural environment helps to increase concentration, imagination and directing energy.

Moreover, research has shown that those who spend their time in green environments find themselves energetic and appreciate life more. Living roofs become essential oases of tranquility in an urban setting where access to natural areas is limited.

Economic Gains

Increased Property Value and Marketability: Properties with green roofs often have higher resale and rental values. The aesthetic appeal and environmental benefits of living roofs make them attractive to tenants and investors, thereby enhancing property value​​​​.

Energy Efficiency Leading to Cost Savings: Living roofs provide natural insulation, reducing the need for heating and cooling in buildings. This translates into significant energy savings, with studies showing reductions in energy consumption by up to 25 percent. Moreover, the cooler environment created by green roofs enhances the efficiency of solar panels, further reducing energy costs​​.

Longevity and Durability of Roofing Structures: The vegetation and soil of a living roof act as a natural barrier against harsh weather conditions and UV radiation. This protection greatly reduces the rate at which the roofing materials degrade. As a result, green roofs can significantly extend the life of a roof. Studies have indicated that green roofs can last up to two to three times longer than conventional roofs. This increased lifespan means less frequent need for replacements and repairs, leading to substantial long-term savings for building owners​.

Living Roofs in the Manitoba

The climate of Manitoba which is predominantly characterized by freezing winters offers a distinctive environment where living roofs can thrive. Such roofs can act as an insulator in the cold seasons so heating costs are lowered. In summer, they can reduce rooftop temperatures which help to controlling the urban heat island effect.

This double gain is important in cities such as Winnipeg, where buildings account for a large part of greenhouse gas emissions. Sustainable practices, such as living roofs are emphasized in the growing Climate Change Action Plan of this city that places an importance upon environmental stewardship.

Local Initiatives and Examples

As a strategy to achieve the same in its Climate Action Plan, Winnipeg has targeted green building practices such as living roofs. City has policies requiring higher energy performance and use of green building standards on any new city-owned buildings. According to (Winnipeg, n.d.), these initiatives include Public Works East Yard Complex and Sturgeon Heights Community Centre which were LEED Gold certified demonstrating the city’s dedication to eco-friendly building.

Integration with Existing Roofing Solutions
Combining living roofs with current roofing solutions, like metal roofing Winnipeg and economical alternatives for the city of Winnipeg could add to their sustainability. It is common to find metal roofing in Winnipeg, which can be substituted by living roof installations that are more aesthetically pleasing. This integration will enhance thermal performance, and the increased longevity of roof.

As a potential long-term saving solution for seeking affordable roofing Winnipeg, living roof options provide energy efficiencies and reduced maintenance costs on rooftops. Living roofs can also help in the roof leak repair Winnipeg and maintenance as they protect roofs from environmental factors.

In line with Manitoba’s climate goals and urban development, the adoption of living roof in Winnipeg has been considered worthwhile. It provides a feasible and environmentally responsible solution aimed at improving the performance of buildings, preserving nature’s riches, and increasing citizen well-being.

With Manitoba progressing in its environmental programs, living roofs have emerged as an important part of the greener and more resilient future for urban areas.

Maintenance and Longevity

Understanding the specific maintenance requirements, regular Winnipeg roof inspections, and cost considerations is essential for ensuring the health and longevity of these sustainable roofing solutions.

Maintenance Requirements

Overcoming Challenges and Misconceptions

Overcoming challenges and misconceptions is key to the adoption of living roofs in Manitoba’s urban spaces.

Initial Costs

The initial cost of installing a living roof varies depending on factors like soil depth, roof design, and the type of vegetation used. Generally, extensive green roofs, with a basic layer of vegetation, cost between $10 and $50 per square foot. More complex, intensive roofs, which can support a wider variety of plants and require more maintenance, can cost anywhere from $20 to over $200 per square foot​

While the initial investment in living roofs is higher than traditional roofs, the long-term benefits offset these costs. Savings in energy consumption, extended roof lifespan, and increased property values contribute to the financial viability of these systems. (Reggev, 2019)

Structural Requirements

It’s crucial to assess and possibly reinforce the structural integrity of buildings for living roof installation, ensuring they can support the additional weight.


One common misconception is that living roofs are not suitable for colder climates like Manitoba’s. However, with proper design and selection of appropriate vegetation, living roofs can thrive in cold climates. They provide excellent insulation, helping to retain heat during the winter and reduce heating costs. Additionally, living roofs can protect the roofing material beneath, extending its lifespan, which is particularly advantageous given the harsh weather conditions often experienced in colder climates. By incorporating appropriate vegetation and soil depth, living roofs can thrive and offer environmental and economic benefits year-round, even in places with cold winters.

Suitability of Living Roofs in Cold Climates

  1. Keeping Warm and Dry Up Top: In places where it gets super cold, roofs have a tough job. They need to keep the heat in and the dampness out. A tight, energy-smart roof is necessary when the weather gets wild. Now, those green roofs with soil and plants. They are neat because they help with both keeping your house warm and managing water.
  2. Roof Types – Chilly vs. Toasty: So, in colder spots, there are mainly two roof styles – “cold” and “hot” roofs. The cold ones have this gap between the roof’s bottom and the insulation, letting air and moisture move around, which is good for stopping problems like ice jams. Hot roofs, on the other hand, are all about packing in the insulation and blocking moisture like a champion. Both kinds can go green, mixing their usual benefits with the extra cozy and water-smart benefits of plant-covered roofs.
  3. Stopping Ice Jams and Keeping Things Strong: In really frosty places, like Manitoba, roofs can get hit with stuff like ice jams. This happens when warm air sneaks into the roof, there’s not enough insulation, or there’s poor air flow. Green roofs can be a big help here. They add more insulation and soak up moisture, which means less chance of those pesky ice dams.
  4. Handling Vapor and Keeping Indoors Comfy: This thing called vapour drive is super important in cold areas. It’s about water vapours trying to balance itself between the moist, warm air inside and the super dry, cold air outside. Water Vapours move through any weak spot to even things out. But, a well-thought-out green roof can help control this vapour movement, cutting down on moisture issues and potential damage to your building.

But, here’s the kicker: Design of a living roof is Key. You can’t just slap some soil and plants on a roof and call it a day. Nope, it needs careful planning. We’re talking about the design needs to be all about trapping warmth effectively. That means considering the types of plants, soil depth, and insulation materials. The roof needs to be designed so it doesn’t turn into a soggy mess or, worse, let water seep into the building. A well-designed living roof will help manage this vapor movement to keep the building healthy and dry.

So, yeah, with the right approach, living roofs can be a fantastic option in colder areas. They’re a bit like a Swiss Army knife for roofs – versatile, efficient, and super useful!


In urban areas in Manitoba, living roofs offer various advantages. They clean the air, work with rainwater runoff and increase biodiversity. Socially they provide green areas for communities hence contributing to community welfare. Economically, they boost property value and provide energy efficiency.

For homeowners looking to install living roofs, it is advisable to seek advice from local specialists like Kenava Roofing. Personalized advice can be provided for Metal Roofing Winnipeg and Roof Inspection to increase the durability of living roofs.

Remember, when it comes to specialized roofing solutions, consulting with the experts is always the best way to go!


GSA. (2021, June 4). Green Roofs.

Reggev, K. (2019, August 20). The Costs and Benefits of Green Roofs. Dwell.

Winnipeg, C. of. (n.d.). Green Buildings – Sustainability – City of Winnipeg. Retrieved January 15, 2024, from

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